Purdue Study Demonstrates Benefits of Service Animals for PTSD
Service dogs help vets battling PTSD. Sufferers have long insisted their dogs help them cope. But actual studies have been few and far behind.
People with service dogs rely on their dogs not just to function as they deal with daily activities, but also to cope emotionally. Now a scientific study at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine has backed up the abundance of anecdotal evidence.
What the Study Says
According to the research, vets with a service dog experienced a higher quality of life and reduced PTSD symptoms, including:
The study followed rigorous standards. Professionals say it is long overdue because this is “an area that has historically been characterized by a reliance on anecdotal accounts and intuition rather than evidence-based science.”
Maggie O’Haire. assistant professor of human-animal interaction, led the study with the help of K9s for Warriors, a respected service dog group.
O’Haire called the study results a “proof of concept that service dogs can actually provide measurable, clinical changes for veterans.” People in the mental health field hope it will speed up getting the dogs accepted as a part of the official treatment for vets with PTSD.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has repeatedly pointed out that there was little actual scientific backing for the benefits of support animals. The Purdue study fills that gap.
The head of the Human Animal Bond research Institute, which co-funded the study with Bayer Animal Health, said, “I hope the promising results from this study will prompt a renewed focus on the benefits that service dogs provide.”
It was actually a pilot study. Because of the data it found, the National Institutes of Health funded a full-fledged clinical trial that will follow a greater number of vets for a longer period of time.
How Service Dogs Help
Service dogs and owners form a two-way bond. It’s all about mutual love, devotion and caring. The dogs do much more than just helping their people function more effectively as they make their way through the day. Vets say their support dogs give them back a joy in being alive.
Mental health professionals point out the dogs don’t cure PTSD. They aren’t a substitute for counseling and other standard methods of treatment for the condition. But their active presence in the vets’ lives definitely, and now scientifically, proves they can reduce the symptoms.
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